This useful terminology is now gaining prevalence on this side of the pond, and Wimbledon's All England Club - of all places - is proving to be an interesting case in point.
'Bought media' means communicating via negotiated media space; 'earned media' means what we know as traditional PR - winning third party media endorsement via persuasion; but 'owned media' is where a brand or organisation conducts direct dialogue with its audiences. It is the latter concept that is transforming the lives of PR professionals.
Partly because of internet clutter, which makes it less clear which third party media are worth influencing, and partly because new technology allows it, brands are finding it more effective to talk directly to consumers.
The concept also works for individuals. So when Jimmy Carr needs to apologise for avoiding paying millions of pounds in tax, he doesn't issue a press release. He puts out a statement on Twitter. Of course Carr doesn't 'own' Twitter as a medium, but he does own the direct relationship with his two million-plus followers (a bigger audience than many national papers).
Not everyone has this sort of online audience of course. But most brands can find a way of building one. Many have turned to Facebook to build such communities. Those with deep pockets have created ongoing live events such as Virgin's V Festival, which enables Virgin brands to talk to hundreds of thousands of customers each year. Crucially, one needs to own - or be associated with - compelling content to maintain profitable dialogue. The more fortunate brands have found they own enough naturally powerful content to communicate to a big audience via their websites.
This is the reason that from last Monday the All England Club has begun streaming live coverage of the tennis championships to fans, via Wimbledon.com.
Because Wimbledon had already negotiated broadcasting rights with a third party medium - the BBC - it only streams a limited period of each match. But make no mistake, this is a serious move. Wimbledon has hired IMG Media to provide a wealth of production expertise and the former tennis stars Annabel Croft and Mats Wilander as full-time presenters.
The comms landscape is transforming, permanently shifting the power balance between brands, content owners and the media.